Here is a little secret that makes women have super powers: each cycle changes our brain chemistry week to week throughout the month, depending on the fluctuating hormones of our cycle. That’s right! Every phase of your cycle unlocks a magic brain alchemy that optimizes certain skills. If you have ever uttered the phrase:” men are so lucky because they don’t have periods”, this will make you think otherwise. WE ARE THE LUCKY ONES. I am going to break down how our brain chemistry changes every phase of our cycle and how you can sync your life to your cycle to optimize certain skills. Our wants and needs also change week to week throughout our cycle. I’m going to lay it all out so you can see the seasons of your menstrual cycle.
The follicular phase week 1-2 (spring-summer)
The follicular phase begins right after you are done menstruating. At the beginning of this phase your hormone levels are pretty low but the further you go into your cycle the estrogen levels begin to increase, thickening your cervical mucus to prepare for ovulation. Estrogen is your yang hormone. Its presence makes you feel upbeat, revitalized, full of energy, more outgoing and creative. It is during this phase where you are more social and charming. To sync with your heightened charm, say yes to parties, networking events and going out on the town with the girls. From a Chinese medicine perspective since this is the summer season of your cycle, it’s a good idea to emphasize a lot of fresh foods with lots of antioxidants. Think vibrant and light foods like fresh salads, green smoothies, or lightly steamed veggies. This is also a great time in your cycle to focus in on fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut.
Ovulation: day 12-18 (peak of summer)
The days leading up ovulation are like the longest days of summer in your cycle. Around your ovulation your estrogen levels will be peaking and your brain chemistry will be set in a way that optimizes your communication skills. On an evolutionary perspective this makes sense as it is during ovulation where we must go and charm perspective mates. One study found that women subconsciously try to look better during ovulation. During the week of your ovulation, 3 days prior and 3 days after, this is your PRIME CHARM TIME. Your desire to connect with community is at its highest so be sure to put yourself out there! This is also an amazing time to have important meetings at work, like negotiating your salary, or having big conversations with a spouse. If you are single, this is the BEST time to go on a first date because you are sure to charm him into a second. BE AWARE, this is your MOST FERTILE TIME, so make sure your first date ends with kissing only if you don’t want to get pregnant.
Luteal phase: after ovulation week 3-4 (autumn)
After ovulation we slowly begin to bring ourselves into autumn. The days of our boundless outgoing energy begin to wane as estrogen levels drop and progesterone levels rise. This is our yin phase of the month, where you will want to move attention inward with more rest, self-care and introspection. PMS symptoms usually crop up at this time, if estrogen from the previous phase were not able to properly detox or there is excess estrogen levels due to external factors. Your brain will start to look for anything that is out of order or out of balance in your life. You will want to organize things, clean out the garage or take care of things. You are more sensitive to imbalances in different areas of life. Your spouse, who just a few weeks ago couldn’t be cuter, is really starting to annoy you with his messiness. Now before you write this phase off as a PMS mood swing nightmare, try to understand the value this phase brings. More than any other time are you able to tune in intuitively to imbalances in your life so you can grow awareness and course correct. Cooked food is very nourishing at this time, think stews, soups and roasts.
Menstrual phase (winter)
As progesterone levels peak and then fall their absence triggers the shedding of the uterine lining, beginning the first day of your menstrual flow and beginning day 1 of your next cycle. Your menstrual phase is winter. You are at your most introspective at this stage. Self-analysis and course correction is the name of the game as the communication between the right and left hemispheres is more powerful than at any other time. Because of the way your hemispheres are firing back and forth, your intuition is higher meaning you can receive more clear intuitive- gut messages. This heightened intuition is one of the superpowers I talked about in the beginning. Lean into this phase. Set time aside for self-care and the space to listen to what your intuition has to tell you. Light a candle, tell the spouse to make dinner while you scoop up your throw and sit down to journal. Journaling the first two days is a good practice to keep, it allows you to keep track of patterns or areas of your life that keep popping up at this phase. This is a good time to meditate for longer and plan ahead of how you will make course corrections in the other weeks of your cycle.
There you have it! Your biological ecosystem has seasons with a few super powers baked in. feel free to comment below on any observations you have made about your menstrual cycle.